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CSDE Seminar Series

CSDE Fellows Invited Lectures

Settler Love is Breaking our Hearts: Colonialism and Emergent Ecologies of Health on the Western Grassland Prairies

Rick Smith, Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies, George Mason University

Parrington Hall Room 360

To Join by Zoom: Register HERE

Link to meet with him here on January 5th

12:30-1:30 PM PT

360 Parrington Hall


Population Health Initiative

In “Settler Love is Breaking My Heart”, Dr. Kim TallBear writes a country music inspired anthem of love and loss that unsettles colonial forms of sex and kinship. TallBear locates a “heartbreak” in the conjoined yet varying histories of Indigenous, Black, Queer and other communities as they strive to live otherwise in a world violently conditioned by colonial definitions of “love” and “family”. Writing in connection with TallBear’s work and drawing on sustained critique across Indigenous and Black Feminisms as well as Queer Ecologies, my previous work has aimed to help trace the processes through which sex, kinship, and ecosystems were collectively transformed in relation to American settler colonialism. Given the colonial entanglement of family, private property, and state formation, I have theorized how settler sex and kinship constitute a colonial force of nature – one that violently reconfigures social, political, and biological ecosystems simultaneously. That is, colonialism operates in part as a reproductive ecology which ties new knots between sex, race, family, and land. Rooted in this theoretical approach, my current work seeks to help situate the shifting ecologies of colonized lands as the literal ground conditions of health and sickness – of living and dying in America. Drawing on my recent community-based work in the grassland prairie ecoregions of central Texas and Alberta, I aim to help reframe normative approaches to rural public health and ecosystem health by grounding these problems in local histories of colonialism on the Western grassland prairies.

Dr. Rick Smith is a geneticist and critical science scholar. He is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at George Mason University (GMU). He is an affiliate of the Women and Gender Studies Program at GMU, The Indigenous Science and Technology Studies Program at The University of Alberta, and SING Canada.  Prior to his current appointment as an Assistant Professor, he received his PhD from The University of Texas – Austin and worked as a post-doctoral scholar at the Neukom Institute for Computational Science and the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College.  His work examines intersections of genomics, feminist, queer and Indigenous science to understand how power becomes molecular. His recent work involves understanding population histories and urban/ruralism, and colonial sex, kinship, and family in the American South.

Dr. Smith will be with us throughout the day on January 5th and you can sign up to meet with him here to discuss yours and his research!